Thurs 28th January: A warning

Today was not a good one.

It began with having to send two puppies to the vet with runny noses.  I knew it wasn’t distemper, which is something to be grateful for, but pneumonia can develop quickly and I had to know if the pups needed hospitalisation.  They didn’t (home care is always best if possible), but then I noticed that tiny baby Pippin had watery  diarrhoea, and parvovirus was almost certainly the cause.  His sister, Mo, was already in hospital with the disease and Pippin was probably about to join her.

Little peke/chihuahua cross

I then got a message to say that although the mother peke had actually arrived at kennels, only one of her puppies was with her.  According to the man, he had given one to a friend and the other to the taxi driver on the way over! Only yesterday he had had all three, and it’s very worrying that two have since gone, and to very suspect homes.

The bag with Pippin inside weighed almost nothing, as he is really a very tiny puppy.  I don’t mean small as in young, although he is only five weeks old, but he will be a small adult too.  I took him first to the Pokfulam SPCA clinic in the hope that he only had diarrhoea, but his test was positive and he needed to go to hospital in Wanchai.  Knowing that I had been handling a parvo-positive puppy, I didn’t want to hang around the kennels any longer than necessary as the disease is highly infectious.  I was just about to leave when I saw a car arrive, a flashy silver model, with a man and a dog inside.

I guessed that this was a returnee, one of Lorna’s puppies who had been adopted some months previously and who was being given up due to the son’s allergies.  Now I fully understand that children in the family will always come first, and I appreciate that parents will do what is necessary to protect their offspring, but this was the straw that was about to break the camel’s back for me.  In the last few weeks we have seen so many dogs returned that I’m beginning to wonder if it’s worth homing dogs at all.  From Venus who only lasted a night (and even that was too long for the adopters) to Asia, this puppy now coming back after months, I understand that commitment is a C-word in many people’s eyes.

Our adoption agreement states quite clearly that we can’t make any guarantees about the health and behaviour of dogs that have just come to us, and while we do our very best to make sure that they are what we think they are, so many adopters refuse to listen or to take advice.  Like the character in the TV series Little Britain, “I want that one.” (based on looks and breed) is too often the deciding factor.

We ask in our questionnaire “Is anyone is the family allergic to dogs?”, and top of the page is PLEASE THINK BEFORE ADOPTING. It makes no difference.  Dogs go out, and dogs come back.  Allergies, not toilet trained, not instantly comfortable in their new home, etc etc.  We’ve heard it all, even “I’m not ready for a dog”. 

So today, when Asia was brought back I invited the (French) gentleman inside and asked him to find a kennel space for his dog.  He had to carry poor Asia  as naturally she didn’t want to walk through the gates, and I pointed to the inner gates where the other dogs were milling around and again told the man to find a space.  I knew full well that there wasn’t one, which is what I had told them.  Mark had asked if they would keep Asia until we had time to find her a new home without her having to come to kennels, but no, the dog had to go now.  So it was with some satisfaction that I saw the immaculate white jeans (white jeans??), and clearly very expensive and pristine soft suede jacket and matching shoes being swiftly and inevitably transformed into being filthy and paw-marked, like all of our clothes are after just minutes with the dogs.

Then I left him to it and took Pippin to Wanchai, leaving Mark to go to the rescue.  I decided that from now on, anyone bringing a dog back without notice or without justifiable reason will also be made to run the gauntlet.  If nothing else, at least it will give me something to smile about.

The icing on the cake of this particular episode was that this family are not short of money.  They live in a 5,000 sqare foot home with a garden, have a driver and maid(s).  So when the wife said they would make a donation to help pay for Asia’s food and care while waiting for a new home, we were expecting something rather more substantial than the $500 that was offered.  If Asia is very lucky she will find a new home soon, but the likelihood is that she will wait a long time.  I wonder how long $500 lasts in the French household (and my guess is that it doesn’t even feature in the enormous budget), because it doesn’t go far at kennels.  There are those who make donations of $100 or $200, but this represents a sacrifice and the money is truly appreciated.   It can’t be compared to the token gesture made by this wealthy couple.

Two dogs were surrendered to AFCD today because their owners “had no space” for them.  One is a fox terrier, and the other looks like a fox terrier/poodle cross (and is quite possible the older one’s son).  They seem like nice dogs, very friendly and I’m sure there will be a lot of interest in them.   But I will say now, and quite clearly, that although we will do our best to assess them and their behaviour, we have no way of guaranteeing anything.  THINK BEFORE YOU ADOPT!  (or you’ll find yourself running that gauntlet too).


23 Responses to “Thurs 28th January: A warning”

  1. Siew Yen Says:

    I guess the dog is worth only 500 bucks in their eyes.. I heard of another adopter who truly has allergies but her kids love the dog so much that she works around it rather than give it up. And I doubt that her house is as big!

  2. Linda Says:


    The work is full of up and down moments. It’s no wonder you question yourself if it worths or not. Dogs go, dogs come. People come, people go. Agreement, disagreement, sort of. It’s the world.
    But oen thing is for sure, there is reason why HKDR can stand for such a long time. It’s the vision and commitment. Time can tell.

    Fully support your work and HKDR.

  3. Denvy Says:

    That’s not good enough. We should get dog-returners to stay one night at the kennels with the dog that is returned, to know what they will go through. A dog from a home taken straight back into the kennels is such a drastic change but I don’t think many people realize how bad it is!

    Poor Asia..

  4. Wi Ki Says:

    And not to mention that when told of the adoption agreement and key considerations, they will also say “Yeah I know”. Absolute twats.

  5. Helen Yeung Says:

    Oh No Sally, don’t be let down by these people. Just look at the soulful eyes and smiley faces in the kennels, they are all worth the effort and work. And lots of supporters around you. Cheer Up!

  6. Angie Says:

    Dear Sally,
    I have to say WHAT SHOCKING BEHAVIOUR from these people returning their HKDR adopted for life family member ASIA.
    What don’t they understand the meaning of ADOPTION is for LIFE ??
    They read the paperwork… they signed on the dotted line.
    Adoption is like a marriage with NO DIVORCE CLAUSE !!
    In sickness and in health in good times and bad, you are a team,
    a partnership for life…. that’s it !!!!
    Don’t get me started on the pathetic $ 500 guilt donation… you people are in no way off the hook here.
    I hope you come back in another life as a dumped dog, to find out what it feels like. Do you know how long Asia will wait now until they find a REAL home for life ??? And you feel free as you left $ 500 in the donation box !!! Think AGAIN … or BETTER STILL STOP AND THINK BEFORE YOU ADOPT FOR LIFE !!

  7. sue kuok Says:

    Yes Sally, I saw those lovely muddy brown and black paw marks on his white pants/jeans! perfect paw prints i must say!!!! Sandra, you must learn how to take prints like that for the life savers club. Wouldn’t it be lovely if one of the doggies took a rip off his jacket too???

  8. KY Says:

    It is all our fault……

    when people said they are very disappointed they can’t get the dog but they even don’t know the character of the dog, they just want it as their daughter or son like this kind of breed.

    when they are being bited even we advised them before let the dog settle down in a new home and not petted them too much in the first few days.

    we don’t provide 24hrs services and guarantee an abandoned dog 100% healthy and good in manner.

    we ask for the adoption fee even only cover the vacc., desex etc., but how can a charity organisation like us with a huge expense of vet bills, food, can be kept on without any donation……….

    People always said they have no choice to give up their dogs but is that their own choice to keep the dog at first but the dog has no choice to say no.

  9. Alexandra Says:

    Its a brilliant idea to make dog-returners walk through the kennels. That’s actually a miniscule ‘penalty’ compared to what the poor dog goes through. I have asthma and my son has eczema. We live in a flat with 3 dogs and we are fine. The dogs are allowed everywhere in the flat, except my son’s bedroom. I must say though doctors were very quick to suggest that the dogs could be the cause of the allergies. With most of my family having different degrees and types of allergies and having always had dogs and cats at home, I think there are rarely allergies that are so severe a pet must be returned as soon as possible or at all yet this seems to be a common excuse in Hong Kong for dumping pets.

  10. eu Says:

    Heartless wealthy people are so used to getting everything they want, including playing with the lives of animals. damn the dog-returner. one thing they can’t get here is respect from us.

  11. Salina Chow Says:

    They might just return the dog just because the dog has passed the cute stage in the puppyhood, sigh!

  12. Anne Says:

    Dear All,
    I understand that you will one may be upset when a dog is returned, but you have to sometimes look at their point of view.
    You can not be so stubborn and think like this, if you are going to support a dog rescue you have to realize that some people will not get on with a dog, and will return it.
    If you still do not understand this, then you are being stubborn and should move onto supporting something else.
    I am extremely disappointed with Sally, and how she writes about her stories. For example, the family who adopted Venus obviously did have a really bad experience and if they were so scared that they couldn’t pick her up, something was evidently wrong. Sally – you need to understand this, and if you put the attitude that you have now, you will upset tons of people out there, and i know for a fact that you already have.
    Sorry to be harsh, but this is the truth and i feel that my voice needed to be heard.
    Dont get the situation wrong, i support you full out, i myself have adopted a dog from HKDR, however i feel you need to understand the view of potential adopters.


    • Sally Says:

      There’s nothing wrong with saying what you feel, but I also write as I feel, and I know the volunteers feel the same way. Until you have worked in an organisation like HKDR, you really can’t understand. Try it. We always need volunteers.

  13. Linda Law Says:

    People who decided to adopt a dog must have a lot of tolerance and patience!! When I first brought Momo from SPCA, she suffered from some separation anxiety and bitten everything at home in the first 6 months, door, door frame, dining chairs… Everynight when I arrived home I was so mad, frustrated and depressed.. sometimes I thought I could not deal with that anymore (i.e. should I just give up and have a peaceful life) but I also kept telling myself – I cannot just bring Momo back, I chosen to take her home and this is it, if one sincerely respect life, this is a no way back. Good thing is after the 6 months, Momo finally stopped act silly and she was very good with me and now with my boyfriend (even occasionally she still act silly when no one at home), and she is a family member already. Everyone like her! She’d been now with us for us 4 years+

    Recommendation to anyone who is about to adopt a dog: yes, think many times before you do it, once you chosen to do it, just pay as much as possible your patience and things will work out one day guarantee. Once the dog realise how nice you treat them, they will be good with you too. But of course this is a dream to have things work out overnight.

  14. Doris Says:

    HKDR never forces anyone to adopt. Potential adopters are asked to think twice if they understand their commitment. As mature adults, how many of them do listen to this carefully, I wonder. Consequently, the “adopted and then surrendered dogs” are made victims of their hasty behaviour. Just say we love dogs is not enough, we need to love them the proper way. What we don’t do to our child, we don’t do to our dogs. It’s life we are talking about here.

  15. Abby and Lou Says:

    Many people don’t understand the reality of having a dog and no matter how much they are told, they would never understand until it happens to them.

    The first few days and even months can be tough and unless you have a truly aggressive dog you really owe it to the dog and yourself to stick it out. You need to set an example to the kids that you just don’t give up when the tough gets going. HKDR provides post-adoption support but not everyone uses this “service”. Sometimes it’s a simple change that makes it all click.

    I would also recommend a training session (even if the dog knows the basics). It’s a great bonding experience and it gives both the owner and the dog more confidence. A dog just needs to be taught what is acceptable or how to communicate. A dog who mouths just has lots of energy and needs to tell you something. Not all dogs circle by the door to signal they need to answer to nature’s call.

    This is why we ask for at least one month of adjustment period. And to let us know immediately if they have questions. Most people don’t contact us until it’s the final straw, an irreversible decision to return the dog, even though we may have been able to help.

    I think this is the part that upsets us. The lack of communication until they want to return a dog. So sure not everyone is as comfortable with dogs as Sally, or Mark or other volunteers and it may be a difficult adjustment for them, more difficult than anticipated anyway BUT many don’t bother to contact us for help. Some do and sometimes it just doesn’t work out.

  16. Ching Says:

    Well, in my opinion, I know that adopting a new dog is hard and sometimes difficult to cope with the situation. But let me ask a question here. If you give birth to a baby and find that he/she turns out to be a jerk or obnoxious person, will you give him/her up and surrender to, I don’t know, Family Parenthood? Well, if your answer is yes, then I have nothing to say. But most of the time and most of the people will not give them up so easily.

    Here is a video of a faceless baby and how amazing their parents do not give up even though their lives could be harder than anyone of us. For adopters, we are just considering how the dogs will hate us and will bite everything in the house and get poos in every corner. But the parents in the video really did have a extremely emotional difficulty to encounter. Dogs and human beings both are living things, and their lives are valuable and fragile. It is sometimes frustrated to see how the dogs turn into disaster to our house. But what beautiful about lives is we keep moving on. You can’t just give up one life by saying ‘I don’t want it.’ It is a responsibility that you are bearing, and well, it can be beautiful too.

  17. Nicky Says:

    My son has skin allergies and we just make sure that we don’t let a build up of fur occur, very easy on hard flooring and he’s absolutely fine.

    Naughty behaviour in dogs is not just confined to rescue dogs. We brought home our female dog at the age of 9 weeks, and for the first year of her life she systematically destroyed our kitchen and dining room. She chewed through an antique dining table and chairs, dug through 3 doors, ripped up our carpet, shredded the wallpaper, wrenched the one of the kitchen cabinet’s door off along with the washing powder drawer on the washing machine.

    Why did we put up with such behaviour? We understand that we are providing life long commitment, and because we chose a highly intelligent breed from working lines (because we are interested and prepared to put in the work for the specific gun dog training required) we anticipated the destruction. Plus the kitchen and dining room needed a complete overhall anyway.

    It’s worth noting that the mongrel dogs we have owned in the past were a dream compared to our pedigree dogs.

  18. Susanna Says:

    How very frustrating for you all and for the poor pups who are returned. Every change makes it a little harder for them to re-adjust the next time around. It takes weeks, sometimes months, for a rescued dog to adjust to a new environment – for people to return a dog after 24 hours is ridiculous. Ask for help and advice through the transition period – put a little effort in to making the adoption work.

    As far as allergies are concerned – I am a dog rescuer who is extremely allergic to both dogs and cats. Having 6 dogs and 3 cats in my own home – I am still alive. An allergist once told me to get rid of my dog – I decided to get rid of the allergist instead. It has worked out quite nicely.

    Perhaps a good pre-adoption requirement would be to have each prospective adopter come volunteer for a day or two at the kennels before being allowed to adopt – to better their understanding about what these pups have survived through and will need in a new home. I am sure you do not have the time or resources to implement that – but it is a nice pipe dream.

    In all of the years that I have been rescuing dogs (8) – the largest donations have almost always come from the adopters and supporters with least amount of resources. The people who have funds rarely give more than the required adoption fee – I have never understood that. I can only think that the people with less resources understand the need more.

  19. DL Says:

    I really wonder and am curious what possibly the reasons for returning the dogs are? Is it destruction of furniture? Incessant barking? Aggression?

    I think, for a first timer with zero dog experience, very little research and reading done on dogs, living in a small flat – an adopted, adult dog can be trying. I admit as much. I don’t think it takes a day or even a month to get a dog settled into the new home. I believe it can take up to 6 months.. or even a year. also, with only two adults taking care of an adopted dog, with full time jobs to juggle, I can see where it is all going. (I empathise with dog adopters, but I also agree that it is a commitment to the dog, and giving up at the very first sign of trouble is …!)

    that said, if there are families out there with a huge sprawling garden and extra help (maids), I don’t see why the adopted dogs will be a problem? that astounds me.

  20. Abby and Lou Says:

    haha Sue – good one!

  21. Helen Yeung Says:

    Totally agree with you Susanna. I adopted recently from HKDR directly from a foster so I thought I knew how urgent it is for the kennel dogs to find homes until I visited the kennel this last Saturday to foster two puppies. If prospective adopters cannot handle volunteering for at least half a day, they most likely cannot handle having a new adopted dog at home, their own territories being taken over at least for awhile by the dog until orders resume and life settles.

  22. Littleclouds Says:

    5000 sq feet house with maids (emphasis on the plural here) why would they even care about 1 dog in their house, I doubt they themselves would ever have to look after the dog anyway, maybe the occasional weekend pat on the head.
    I really don’t know how they can sleep at night without thinking of the dog they abandoned.

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